How Hospitality Workers and Businesses Are Reinventing Themselves

March 25, 2021
min read

The massive disruption to the hospitality industry has forced millions of employees to lose their jobs and, for some, provided an opportunity for reinvention. Learn how part-time workers and businesses alike are finding creative solutions to adapt during this challenging time. 

“Follow me, right this way,” said the former hostess turned patient greeter. 

As of February 2021, nearly 4 million leisure and hospitality jobs have been lost, a staggering blow to an industry that once had 15 million employees, economists said. The massive disruption to the hospitality industry has led talent to look beyond past experiences and apply transferable skills to new areas.  As the saying goes, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade! 

From washing dishes to disinfecting businesses. Restaurant chef yesterday, nursing home cook today. With a bit of creativity and a can-do attitude, many hospitality workers have seamlessly shifted into new roles and, in many cases, into new industries. What makes hospitality workers attractive to businesses hiring now are their customer service skills, attention to detail, and ability to multitask in fast-paced environments. 

In Jitjatjo’s recent webinar, New Year, New You, Making the Most of 2021, featured guest Joe Heck, Sr. Director of People and Support at Hersha Hospitality Management, spoke about the current state of staffing and touched on the shift from hospitality to healthcare for many workers. He highlighted the various similarities between the industries citing comparable operating hours (both open 24/7), similar high standards for cleanliness, an emphasis on customer service, and the need for food and beverage workers across places looking to hire now, making it a natural shift for workers between industries.  

Joseph, a member of Jitjatjo’s talent community, is an excellent example of someone who reinvented himself through Jitjatjo’s  CleanDisinfect solution, a service providing cleaning technicians to assist essential businesses during COVID.  Pre-pandemic, Joseph worked in several hospitality roles but since then has been re-trained to become a General Cleaner and Disinfection Tech, allowing him to continue working and earning a paycheck. Many of the skills he used in previous hospitality roles, such as his high attention to detail, his ability to adapt easily, and his experience working in a team environment, helped for a seamless transition to a new industry. 

As talent has had to become more creative in finding new roles, businesses have also had to adapt with regard to staffing. Many businesses were forced to furlough the majority of their staff at the beginning of the pandemic, but as new guidelines allow for higher capacities, businesses are finding it impossible to fill these positions because a lot of unemployed workers who used to look for part-time gigs aren’t aware that, in most states, they can work a certain number of hours and still collect unemployment benefits. It’s been difficult for businesses to compete with the PUA extension, which has allowed workers to further delay getting back to work. Jitjatjo has been instrumental in helping bridge this gap. Jitjatjo’s competitive wages have been an effective tool in encouraging local, dedicated, professional talent to get working again. As a result, many businesses who need to fill shifts fast have relied on  Jitjatjo’s talent pool to fill vacancies.

While there has been a dark cloud over the hospitality industry for the last year, there is hope that restaurants could get a boost as more Americans receive the COVID-19 vaccine. In addition, the hotel industry is expected to add 200,000 jobs this year. However, experts do warn that it will still be some time before the industry is out of the woods and at pre-pandemic levels. 

For many, this period of disruption has been a time to re-evaluate and reinvent for both talent and businesses alike. In a recent interview with Jitjatjo, Nancy Medoff, Founder, Author, Keynote and Coach at AthenaWise shared some valuable advice.Your career is not at a standstill because the industry is. Leaving the service industry doesn’t mean you can’t come back. Think about your skillset and what industries are hiring and make the connections. Look at like industries and demonstrate how those skills are transferable.” 

As we look back over the last year and see the talent and businesses that have persevered, the one common denominator is their ability to adapt and evolve. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it has shown us how quickly things can change and the importance of being adaptable!


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